Thursday, January 31, 2019

Review - Life

by Cynthia Rylant
illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
Date: 2017
Publisher: Beach Lane Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 48
Format: e-book
Source: library

Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel explore the beauty and tenacity of life.

Life begins small, then grows…

There are so many wonderful things about life, both in good times and in times of struggle. Through the eyes of the world’s animals—including elephants, monkeys, whales, and more—Cynthia Rylant offers a moving meditation on finding beauty around us every day and finding strength in adversity. Brendan Wenzel’s stunning landscapes and engaging creatures make this an inspiring and intriguing gift for readers of all ages.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Sometimes certain picture books miss the mark for their audience. I have a feeling this is one of those books. While I appreciate the message (and the lovely illustrations), I'm not sure if it'll find broad appeal among children who are looking for a good story. What we have here is not so much a story as an after-school special about not giving up on life; it's not explicit, but I certainly couldn't help but notice the anti-suicide messages in the text:

And it is worth
waking up in the morning
to see what might happen.

I realize that children can struggle with depression and dark thoughts, but I also question whether a book like this will find its audience. The people who would get the most out of a book like this may be at an age where they think themselves "too old" for picture books.

There are parts of the text I'm not crazy about; near the beginning we get a lot of sentence fragments. The illustrations are quite lovely, with colourful full-page spreads of animals living their lives. The pictures are actually stronger than the text, in my opinion.

This might make a lovely gift for older children (ones who wouldn't turn up their noses at a picture book, anyway) or even adults. But as a kids' book, I'm not sure it quite hits the mark.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.17 out of 5

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